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A Smartphone For Only $25? Mozilla is Working On It

<p>Forget early adopters in Silicon Valley. Firefox OS is targeting the developing world with plans for an extremely affordable smartphone.</p>
Firefox OS

A smartphone for only $25 could be on the horizon, thanks to a collaboration between Mozilla, the organization behind Firefox, and a Chinese manufacturer.

While a $25 phone likely would not compete with high-end models from Apple and Samsung in the United States, it could be a big hit in the developing world, where smartphone adoption is climbing rapidly.

Wide-Open Market

Pretty much anywhere you go in the world, cellphone ownership is the norm, according to a recent Pew Research Report, but smartphone owners are still in the minority. That could change thanks to strong interest from young consumers. In China, 69 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds own a smartphone, compared to 37 percent of the population overall.

That might explain why Facebook bought mobile messaging service WhatsApp for $16 billion. Mark Zuckerberg, eyeing billions of potential new Facebook users, has announced his intentions to bring mobile Internet access to the two-thirds of the global population who don’t have it yet.

Mozilla’s Plan

Mozilla released its mobile operating system, Firefox OS, two years ago. Today, it’s in 15 different countries on three different phones, with carriers planning to move into a host of new markets including Ecuador, Panama, and the Czech Republic later this year.

At the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona on Monday, Jay Sullivan, chief operating officer of Mozilla, announced its deal with Chinese chip manufacturer Spreadtrum to create a reference design for the new phone.

“We are also enabling a whole new category of smartphone, priced around $25, that will bring even more people around the world online,” he said in a statement.

Don't get out your wallet just yet. The design is meant for manufacturers, so it’s not clear when an ultra-cheap Firefox smartphone might hit the market.